(REUTERS) - Stocks rose in light trading on Friday, led by a jump in Microsoft shares, as trading took place without interruption a day after the Nasdaq stock exchange suffered an unprecedented, three-hour trading halt.
Microsoft (MSFT.O) shares posted their largest daily percentage gain in more than four years after the head of the world's largest software company, Steve Ballmer, announced he will retire within 12 months.
The stock closed up 7.3 per cent at $34.77 and was the largest contributor to the advance on the three major indexes.
"The big news today is the succession at Microsoft, but beyond that it's pretty quiet," said Mr Dan Veru, chief investment officer at Palisade Capital Management in Fort Lee, New Jersey.
The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI rose 46.77 points or 0.31 per cent, to 15,010.51, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 6.54 points or 0.39 per cent, to 1,663.5 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 19.085 points or 0.52 per cent, to 3,657.792.
Volume was among the lowest of the year with about 4.9 billion shares changing hands on the New York Stock Exchange, the Nasdaq and NYSE MKT, far below the daily average so far this year of about 6.3 billion shares.
Trading volume was only slightly higher than Thursday's 4.4 billion, affected by a technological problem that shut down trading in Nasdaq securities for three hours in the afternoon.
On Friday, Robert Greifeld, chief executive officer of Nasdaq OMX (NDAQ.O) said the exchange resolved the technical problems that led to the halt but could not guarantee there would never be future glitches. Nasdaq shares gained 1.2 per cent to close at $30.83.
Friday's gains helped the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite end a two-week losing streak, but the Dow posted its third consecutive weekly decline. For the week the Dow fell 0.5 per cent, the S&P gained 0.5 per cent and the Nasdaq added 1.5 per cent.
Economic data showed sales of new single-family homes fell by 13.4 per cent in July to an annual rate of 394,000 units, well below expectations of 490,000 units.
The data weighed on homebuilder stocks, with PulteGroup (PHM.N) down 1.6 per cent to $16.06 and Toll Brothers (TOL.N) off 3.9 per cent to $31.19. The PHLX housing sector index .HGX lost 1.6 per cent.
Pandora Media Inc (P.N) slumped 12.9 per cent to $18.91 after the Internet radio service said late Thursday that rising expenditures to acquire music and expand its sales force would push fiscal 2014 earnings below analyst expectations.
Aeropostale Inc (ARO.N) tumbled 20.2 percent to $8.76 after the teen apparel retailer forecast a steep third-quarter loss.
Shares of Autodesk (ADSK.O) rallied 7.7 percent to $38.91 after earlier hitting $41.72, its highest level since April 2012.
Roughly two issues rose for every one that fell on the NYSE and on Nasdaq 13 rose for every 11 decliners.